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A Day at Duke Farms — An enchanted oasis in Montgomery’s backyard

The Duke estate — now a public park — is a magnificent gift to nature lovers, hikers, and athletes who live close enough it to enjoy it.

Montgomery Township residents are fortunate to be able to take a short drive north on Route 206 to experience the Garden State at its finest.

The great falls at Duke Farms.


Duke Farms is a quiet, picturesque place to walk, jog, and bike and is open year round, with the exception of Wednesdays when it is closed.

It is an oasis for photographers, artists of all kinds, bird watchers, gardeners, and anybody with an appreciation of nature and environmental stewardship.

Many know the story of how tobacco magnate James Buchanan “Buck” Duke purchased 357 acres of farmland back in 1893 along the banks of the Raritan River in Somerset County.

Duke began cultivating his New Jersey estate, perhaps inspired by the likes of Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park).

Eventually, Duke’s estate grew to encompass some 2,000 acres, complete with man-made waterfalls, sculptures, lakes, fieldstone walls, wells, and more. He died in 1925 and passed the estate to his daughter, Doris, who used it as her main residence for the rest of her life.

A public park since 2012, Duke Farms focuses on conservation and stewardship of the land. It contains a community garden, a working farm, and 18 miles of walking trails.

Enjoy the day, and the farm market and cafe, if you go. As you can see, my favorite thing to do at Duke Farms is to take photographs.

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